Positive thinking: a simple idea but a seemly insurmountable task when you’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer, or face any one of life’s many crises. A positive attitude is so important because it helps your body de-stress and focus on recovery. If you have breast cancer, once you’ve completed your surgery and treatment, it will become much easier.
The value of positive thinking has been proven to make a difference, but is much easier said than done. Once you have survived cancer, every day is a good day, but coping with feelings often requires strategies. We all need to learn to reduce stress whenever possible. This is true whether you have cancer, or are trying to keep your body and immune system healthy to prevent the disease. Here are a few strategies from my book that help reduce stress.
- Relaxation techniques. I downloaded Belleruth Naparstek’s guided imagery program for cancer patients onto my iPod. After my mastectomy surgery, I tried to use it at least once a day. It helped a lot with positive thinking. You can download it in MP3 format or buy the DVD. Here’s the website: http://www.healthjourneys.com/Product_Detail.aspx?id=115 .
For those who are trying to prevent cancer, relaxation is just as important. Our culture is moving so fast we have no time to stop and smell the roses. I lived in England for four and a half years and they would refer to our fast-paced society, and our work hours of 60 hours plus per week in stressful jobs as “uncivilized”. There many different DVDs available for relaxation. One other simple idea that works for many people is simply downloading some of your favorite music on an IPod and taking a few minutes while you eat lunch or walk to listen to music and think positive thoughts.
- Qigong –Dana Farber offers introductory classes for patients as part of their complimentary therapy department. Since Dana was too far for me to travel on a regular basis, I purchased a book by Dr. Nan Lu. You may read about his recommendations for breast cancer support using Traditional Chinese Medicine on this site: http://www.breastcancer.com. I found the qigong exercises on the website to be a way of relaxing.
- Yoga – I purchased a yoga DVD made specifically for breast cancer patients. It’s by Susan Rosen and is titled: Yoga and the Gentle Art of Healing: A Journey of Recovery After Breast Cancer. My Lymphedema therapist reviewed this DVD and also said it was very good. My neighbor Suzy also convinced me to sign up for classes with her. At our studio, a fellow survivor actually offered a free class for women recovering. I enjoyed that class not only for the exercise but for the camaraderie. Yoga is a great way to distress your body when jobs, children and everyday life become overwhelming.